How societal responses to COVID-19 could contribute to child neglect

A. Bérubé, M.-È. Clément, V. Lafantaisie, A. LeBlanc, M. Baron, G. Picher, J. Turgeon, M. Ruiz-Casares, C. Lacharité - Child Abuse & Neglect



The ecosystemic approach to children’s needs demands a cohesive response from societies, communities, and families. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the choices societies made to protect their community members from the virus could have created contexts of child neglect. With the closure of services and institutions, societies were no longer available to help meet the needs of children.


The purpose of this study is to examine parents’ reports on the response their children received to their needs during the COVID-19 crisis.


During the period of the spring 2020 lockdown, 414 parents in the province of Quebec, Canada, completed an online questionnaire about the impact of the crisis on the response their children received to their needs.


Compared to parents of younger children, parents of older children reported less fulfillment of their child’s needs in three measured domains, namely cognitive and affective, security, and basic care needs.


These results are discussed in light of the policies and the resources societies have put in place during the crisis to help families meet the needs of their children. Societies must learn from this crisis to put children at the top of their priorities in the face of a societal crisis. Thoughtful discussions and energy must be given to ensure that, while facing a crisis, the developmental trajectories of children are not sacrificed.